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A South African Entrepreneur with a Vision

An entrepreneur, innovator and development strategist in her home country, Pumla Maswanganyi (South Africa, UWC Maastricht, St. Olaf ’16) has been nominated as one of the Most Influential People of African Descent by the organization of that name.

“Currently, I am chief innovation officer at Baobab Consulting, a strategic advisory and communications company working with leaders and organizations to amplify their impact on the African continent,” Pumla writes from Johannesburg. “I also serve at the chief strategy officer at Jara, where we are creating a personal, portable, solar- and crankpowered education technology device for children in post-disaster zones and refugee camps.” That project won Cisco challenges in both Australia and the U.S.

Pumla’s work has earned her a Forbes Fellowship, a Resolution Fellowship, membership in the African Women Leaders Network, and an invitation to join the 2019 UNLEASH Sustainable Development Innovation Lab, working toward UN SDG 9: Innovation, Industry and Infrastructure.

At the UNLEASH Innovation Lab in Shenzhen, China last year, she writes, “My team and I aimed to bridge the market access gap faced by rural women farmers in Uganda, by working on a mobile USSD micro-logistics platform that leverages transportation networks to enable the passage of produce to urban markets.

“Simply put, my vision is to attain and extend freedom in all ways: from increasing the socioeconomic freedoms of the marginalized, to rewriting the rules surrounding a traditional ‘career,’ to creating spaces that allow myself and others to achieve our dreams on our own terms.”